In his trademark warm, conversational style, Lucado invites readers to shift from a self-centered universe to one where God is the focus. He believes we have bought into a pattern of self-centeredness --- our lives revolve around what we convince ourselves will make us happy. We want to express ourselves. We act out of self-preservation. We are big self-promoters. "No wonder our homes are so noisy, businesses so stress-filled, government so cutthroat, and harmony so rare," he writes.
Couldn't we use a change?
Change, even good change, is difficult for most of us. To take ourselves out of the spotlight is no easy task, Lucado believes. "We've been demanding our way and stamping our feet since infancy." However, to serve "self" creates chaos, he says, using the example of an orchestra in which each artist clamors for self-expression. "Who enjoys contributing to a cacophony? You don't. We don't. We were not made to live this way," Lucado writes.
Arguing that "what Copernicus did for the earth, God does for our souls," Lucado writes of how God points to the Son --- his Son --- and says, "Behold the center of it all." Then he asks the reader, "could a Copernican shift be in order?" We should use the moon for our model, "let her do what she was made to do, and a clod of dirt becomes a source of inspiration…the moon reflects the greater light."
Life is full of change, and with it comes fear, insecurity, sorrow and stress. "Cemeteries interrupt the finest families. Retirement finds the best employees. Age withers the strongest bodies." How do we focus on God in the midst of it? God's ways will never alter, Lucado reminds us. He alone is unchangeable and unshakeable, and we can focus on Him with confidence.
Lucado alerts us to a deadly question we torment ourselves with: "What are people thinking of you?" Vulnerably, he shares his own battle with pride. "We applause-aholics have done it all: dropped names, sung loudly, dressed up to look classy, dressed down to look cool, quoted authors we've never read, spouted Greek we've never studied." He reminds us --- and himself --- that we are only messengers of the message. It's not about us.
He also warns against legalism, which he says is "joyless, because legalism is endless….There is always another class to attend, person to teach, mouth to feed." When we believe we can earn our way to heaven, we discount God, and in the process, end up in a mess ourselves. Then he reminds us of grace, something Lucado has done in almost every book he's written. "Grace offers rest. Legalism never does….Can you earn this salvation? No. Don't dishonor God by trying."
He touches on our need for keeping spiritually and physically fit, as well as reminding us of the place of sex as "a celebration of permanence, a tender moment in which the body continues what the mind and the soul have already begun." Even though it's not about us, we are charged with keeping our body in good order so God can use it.
Lucado devotes a chapter to exploring the self-centered belief that "my struggles are about Him" and realigning ourselves with the knowledge that pain and problems have a purpose --- the glory of God. His words clearly state his belief that God is in control but sometimes allows illness or death as a way to showcase his glory, which will resonate with some readers and be a point of disagreement for others.
Grounded in scripture, salted with wry humor, liberally seasoned with grace and sprinkled with interesting anecdotes and illustrations, this compact book has the feel of a comfortable chat with a wise older brother or favorite uncle. Those who feel the book is too short will find the beautifully designed interior pages and a study guide that round out the text compensation for the brevity.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on November 13, 2011